ASIO’s getting the keys to your computer

July 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Man, we’re screwed. If the Greens are the only political actors standing between us and the government’s exciting new Orwellian surveillance laws it’s probably time to pack our bags and check into Room 101. Because both the government and opposition (which is soon to become the government by a crushing majority) seem very comfortable with the idea of letting ASIO get up real close and personal for a deep body rub-humping all over you online.

Plans before Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for letting them do this include laws to force your internet provider to store records of your online activity – all of it – for two years. maybe you are a mad, bearded bomber with a woody for martyrdom. maybe, like me, you just like to indulge in a bit of celebrity tentacle pr0n every now and then. Doesn’t matter. We’re all going into Room 101 together. And while we’re in there, if the attorney general’s department has its way, all of your social media data will be available on the screens at ASIO, no matter what your privacy settings, no matter whether you sent a message via DM on Twitter or to a family member or close friend on a ‘closed’ social network like Path. they won’t even need to go to the trouble of using brute force decryption to work out your password (or, you know just keying in your pet’s name). you, your sysadmin, your internet or social network provider, you will all be going to jail if you don’t cough that password up.

While the tech press, and even foreign mainstream media are sounding loud the alarm over the attorney’s big Brother plans, the local media, Fairfax included, mostly seems to have dozed off.* or maybe you just don’t care, so having tracked your eyeballs away from the few pieces we ran on the issue, over to the in-depth analysis of Sophie and Vernessa’s cut-off jeans on the Shire, we decided to give you what you want rather than what you need. our bad.** More importantly, as best I can tell, outside of the Greens there is no significant political resistance to any of these proposals.

The Government, of course, isn’t going to bag itself. And Tony Abbott might well decide he wants to go through my tentacle pr0n collection anyway.


* Crikey did have a cracking piece, but their site was down this morning so I couldn’t link to it. obviously ASIO has inserted a kill team already.

** I’ve been having a twitter exchange with our eco and tech writers Ben Cubby, Ben Grubb and ZDnet’s Josh Taylor about the Fairfax coverage of this. Josh is adamant that Ben G and Fairfax have been out in front on the issue and that needs acknowledging. so I’ll acknowledge it. Especially this piece on July 12, which may have sparked the story, for instance. but I’ll add the caveat that this is really so much more than a tech story that it should be getting the treatment from the Gallery and across the media spectrum, not just by us but by News Ltd and the broadcast media. That’s not happening yet.

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